Discourse is violence

“Historians have tended to treat the distinctions between raw material and writing in terms of a methodological problem and not in relation to their formation in a colonising logic. Perhaps historians, too, should follow the example proposed by Jose Rabasa, and consider refining the commonplace knowledge is power with the equation discourse is violence. Similarly, Qadri Ismail has argued that history is not just an argument about change through time, but one about progress. History is, according to Ismail, impossible without colonialism. This is not, as I understand it, a call to ‘abandon history.’ Rather, it is an invitation to explore the connections between fact and faith or the disciplinary condition by which an archive produced under conditions of colonisation is filtered, processed, and repackaged only to give rise to the subaltern effect. This is to demand that history’s relation to colonialism itself be subjected to sustained critique.”

-Premesh Lalu, The Deaths of Hintsa: Postapartheid South Africa and the Shape of Recurring Pasts, 263.

Fall 2013

Atlanta’s just beginning to shed its blanket of humidity, and fall 2013 is shaping up to be fantastic–if not a bit exhausting. Here’s where I’ll be for the next couple of months:

October 4-6: I’m honored to join Imagining America this year as a PAGE fellow (Publicly Active Graduate Education) this year. The PAGE program aims to rethink how graduate education can be more publicly engaged, and I’ll be meeting up with my amazing co-fellows (seriously, they’re phenomenal!) at the Imagining America conference in Syracuse, New York.

October 16-18: Thanks to the NEH’s generous support, I’ll be headed to College Park, Maryland to take part in the Digital Humanities Data Curation Institute. I’m thrilled to learn more about building sustainable digital projects; data curation has become a bit of a passion (obsession?) of mine, since I think a lot about cultural heritage and how to preserve intangible histories.

November 21-24: I’ll be at the annual American Studies Association meeting in Washington, D.C. for a panel on public histories of dissent. I’m quite excited to join my co-panelists, Dr. Ben Railton from Fitchburg State, the University of Southern Maine’s Dr. Eve Raimon, and Lucy Malroney from Syracuse for our panel about how museums, archives, and public sites engage histories of dissent. Dr. Micki McElya will serve as our chair and commentator. The ASA is always a thought-provoking, reinvigorating (and fun!) conference, and I’m looking forward to our discussion.

Whew. Stop by if you’re in the area, and best wishes for a great fall!

Miriam Posner’s “How did they make that?”

The fabulous Miriam Posner posted a great piece on her blog today that’s made the rounds on the Twitterverse. She gives a really useful breakdown of digital humanities projects and the tools you need to know to get started. In some cases Miriam also gives alternatives, which are particularly helpful if you’re interested in something like mapping and need to filter through the potential technologies available.

Thanks, Miriam!

“We’ve been promised some computers”

I’ve spent part of today procrastinating from packing boxes by reading through Darius Kazemi’s latest project, Scenes from The Wire. It’s a kind of meditation on fandom and meme generation; basically, Darius created a bot that grabs random scenes from seasons 1 and 2 of The Wire, puts in subtitles, and makes animated gifs from the results. I’ve followed Darius’s work for awhile now (his ClickBait project is a devastatingly funny take-down of the awfulness that is, well, click-bait) but I’m particularly fond of this project.

Since Southern Spaces is about to move into the newly reorganized Emory Center for Digital Scholarship, this one feels a bit apropos:
We've been promised some computers animated gif
Well worth an evening’s perusal.

(In all seriousness, though, the ECDS folks have been fabulous so far, and we’re really looking forward to being a part of that space. Thanks, ECDS!)

Currently reading: Lori Emerson’s “From the Philosophy of the Open to the Ideology of the User-Friendly”

Add to the list of things I’m catching up on: Lori Emerson’s excellent piece “From the Philosophy of the Open to the Ideology of the User-Friendly.”

“…What concerns me is that ‘user-friendly’ now takes the shape of keeping users steadfastly unaware and uninformed about how their computers, their reading/writing interfaces, work let alone how they shape and determine their access to knowledge and their ability to produce knowledge. As Wendy Chun points out, the user-friendly system is one in which users are, on the one hand, given the ability to ‘map, to zoom in and out, to manipulate, and to act’ but the result is a ‘seemingly sovereign individual’ who is mostly a devoted consumer of ready-made software and ready-made information whose framing and underlying mechanisms we are not privy to.”